This summer’s “must-read” (according to People magazine and other critics): The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Ecco, $25.95). Take a first novel about a mute boy and his dog written by a 48-year-old Colorado software designer. Add rapturous reviews.
Then include a quasi-mystical moment involving Stephen King, who picked up the advance bound manuscript and started reading.
The reason? “I really don’t know. It just called to me. Sometimes they do that,” says King. His subsequent blurb begins: “I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.”
Released June 10 with a first printing of 26,000 copies, the novel is in its 12th printing with 170,000 in print, a large number for a first novel by an unknown writer.
“It’s one of those magical books, like Water for Elephants,” says Cathy Langer, lead buyer for Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstores. “The word of mouth has been huge.” It’s not just dog lovers. “It’s speaking to a lot of different people’s hearts.”
“It’s the Cinderella story we’re all so proud of,” says the book’s editor, Lee Boudreaux. “It’s such an wonderful, old-fashioned read. … You lose yourself in this book.”
She mailed the manuscript to King although she knew “he gets tons of galleys.” They met while working on the 2001 novel Black House,which King and Peter Straub co-wrote.
Set in rural Wisconsin, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle tells the tale of a young boy mute since birth. With his dogs, he confronts family secrets, tragedy and danger.
Like his protagonist, Wroblewski grew up in Wisconsin, where his parents tried dairy farming and running a kennel. His first memory at age 2 is of the family collie, and dogs remain a crucial part of his life.
The book’s success “has been just jaw-dropping,” he says. He has been too busy giving readings and interviews to celebrate.
As for his famous fan, Wroblewski says he and King have e-mailed. “We’ve exchanged thank-yous. I’ve been a bit tongue-tied. And I’m star-struck.” (From USA Today)